Japan pledges aid for Myanmar

Doing the rounds: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Myanmar President Thein Sein inspect the honor guard at the Presidentian Palace on Sunday in Naypyitaw. | AP

NAYPYITAW – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday pledged ¥91 billion in fresh aid to Myanmar while waiving another ¥190 billion in debt, to support the democratizing Southeast Asian country’s growth. During the first visit by a Japanese prime minister in 36 years, Abe and Myanmar President Thein Sein agreed to lay “a new foundation for mutual friendship” by boosting cooperation in economic, political and security areas, as well as interpersonal and cultural exchanges.

Abe called for “jump-starting” bilateral ties, which had been somewhat “frozen” until the country decided to shift from military rule to a democratic government in March 2011, and taking the relationship to a higher level, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko said.

Unlike its Western allies, Japan maintained trade ties with Myanmar during the military junta’s rule, which ended in 2011, saying that taking a hard line on sanctions might push it closer to Beijing. After the summit, the two leaders exchanged notes on Tokyo’s waiver of the remaining debt and the provision of some ¥51 billion in fresh loans to help develop Myanmar’s infrastructure, as well as up to ¥40 billion in grant and technical assistance in fiscal 2013. more…